Indian Americans Applaud California Democrats Designate Caste As protected Category

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ADAM RIZVI, TIO, WASHINGTON, D.C.: The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy organization dedicated to preserving India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, applauded the California Democratic Party’s decision to make caste a protected category today.

The California Democratic Party is the nation’s largest state party to take a stand against caste discrimination, a significant step forward in the struggle against caste-based oppression in the US. The Democratic Party has made history by including caste as a protected group in the Party Code of Conduct, despite protests from Hindutva front organizations operating in the United States.

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The push for this move was led by Equality Labs and other famous Dalit campaigners. As Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Equality Labs’ Executive Director, stated: “This is a powerful validation of the caste equity civil rights movement. Caste is so deeply alive in the diaspora and it impacts so many parts of the South Asian American experience. Our report showed the prevalence of caste discrimination with 1 out of 4 Dalits experiencing physical assault, 2 out of 3 experiencing workplace discrimination, and 1 out of 3 experiencing discrimination in education. The Democratic party is leading the conversation by recognizing that caste-oppressed Americans deserve protection and that the time for its addition in all American institutions is long overdue. We look forward to continuing to work with even more elected officials around the state and the country.”

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“We would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to our Dalit allies for this victory in the state of California,” said Mr. Rasheed Ahmed, Executive Director of IAMC.

Amar Singh Shergill, California Democratic Party Executive Board Member, and Progressive Caucus Chair stated, “With the addition of caste protections to our Party Code of Conduct, the Democratic party recognizes that California must lead in the historical battle for caste equity and ensure we acknowledge the need for explicit legal protections for caste-oppressed Americans. We understand that protection from caste discrimination may be accessed under preexisting categories of ancestry, religion, and race, yet many caste-oppressed people do not report discrimination because this explicit legal protection is not yet widely recognized.”

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“The addition of caste-based protections is crucial as the United States ratified international human rights treaties that require us to be committed to protections of all marginalized people,” said Govind Acharya of Amnesty International USA. “Protections for caste oppressed communities are a vital global human rights issue and it is time that California once again leads the nation in making human rights history.”

Despite the fact that the caste system originated in India, diaspora populations in the West have imported and implemented discriminatory practices in their adoptive homelands. Most notably, the state of California sued Cisco over allegations of discrimination against a Dalit engineer, who “received less pay, fewer opportunities, and other inferior terms and conditions of employment” due to his caste. Discrimination based on caste has been reported in Silicon Valley behemoths such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Apple, and Amazon.

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IAMC has reaffirmed its commitment to justice for all marginalized communities, whether they are oppressed on the basis of caste, religion, or another minority status.

Curated By: Leen Hamade

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